Dare To Be! Stories of successful women who decided to go with their gut and goals and make a real living off their passions against all odds. Rinku Paul and Puja Singhal have put together narratives of 15 such trailblazers in a book. SheThePeople.TV in partnership with Penguin-Random House presents excerpts of this upcoming showcase.
Neeti Palta- excerpt
The ‘buzz’ and ‘vibrancy’ of the advertising business made her spend a decade in the industry and she quickly rose through the ranks. With her designations came a lot of opportunities. As she succinctly puts it, ‘When you hand out a business card that says Senior Creative Director, a lot of doors open up. Producers could be chasing, you could land up writing a film script and hobnobbing with film stars.’ Not to mention the perks: a swanky office, flight mileage points—things that are all in a day’s work for a jet-setting advertising executive.
Just when it was time to reap the benefits of having climbed up the corporate ladder, however, she decided to bid this life adieu. By her own admission, she could not ‘continue to sell cola to the youth’. Probe her further and you realize there is a lot more behind this clever play of words. ‘A doctor’, she elaborates, ‘is left to make an intelligent diagnosis of the disease before he prescribes the medicines, yet when you are a communication professional, it is the client who starts to tell you what you should do and how because it is his money that is being spent.’ ‘If you are creative with “some level of self-respect”, these things begin to get to you at some point,’ she confesses.
It was around this time that the stand-up comedy circuit began to make its presence felt in India. The turning point came once again for Neeti when she attended a show of Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood of Whose Line is it Anyway? fame, when they toured India. When they needed a volunteer from the audience to make background noises for a scene, Neeti was chosen. Soon, she was making such funny sounds that it had the audience in splits and the performers improvising scenes to match her sounds.
When Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood of Whose Line is it Anyway? needed a volunteer from the audience to make background noises for a scene, Neeti was chosen
One week later, Neeti was at her first open mic night, at an upscale restaurant in New Delhi; more followed, and soon she grew to love these experiences so much that she was convinced to try another career switch. Only this time, it was harder to convince those around her. Her father was shocked; why a writer like Neeti would want to do this “bhandpanti” was beyond him. Of course, today he is a changed man, and one of her biggest fans.
When you think of stand-up comedy, the first names to spring to mind are Russell Peters, Vir Das and others…..all male of course. In an industry that is yet emerging in India and is heavily male skewed, hearing about the immense popularity of Neeti Palta intrigued us no end. What further added to her mystique was the fact that our research showed that she had quit her high profile advertising career (with India’s largest advertising agency, JWT, no less) to follow this untrodden path.
Couple of minutes into the meeting with her and she describes with her characteristic humour, how her decision to quit her stable job was akin to falling from grace, for many. She also makes no bones about the fact that the early times came with its share of doubts, as she herself wondered if she had taken the leap in a fit of overconfidence! However, it was clearly both sheer talent and perseverance that came together to make Neeti the brand name she is today. To her credit, she brings the much-needed female perspective to the English stand-up comedy scene in India. Her advice to women sitting on the entrepreneurial fence, however, summarizes the voice of entrepreneurship and that of this book. ‘It is better to live with oh shit instead of what if”, she rightly says!